Many of our clients began using drugs and alcohol as a form of self-medicating for their anxiety and or depression. Addictions are often formed shortly after. In the medical field anxiety and depression go hand in hand, but when it comes down to treating each person a careful inspection of each individual is necessary. Today, we will share the differences with you and hopefully shed some light on yourself or a loved one.
The medical director of the Comprehensive Mental Health Program, Sanjay Mathew, M.D says, “There is an overlap between depression and anxiety, but the medications for the two are not the same,” Further he says, “It’s important to recognize how the two are related and treated.”
Let’s break it down. Anxiety is defined as an excessive, worry. No matter how trivial or large, there is anxiety present. As well, there is intolerance for uncertainty. Perhaps this is where we find people develop Obsessive Compulsive Disorders and control disorders. Physical symptoms of anxiety can include muscle tension, poor sleep, fatigue, headaches and several gastrointestinal symptoms such as irritable bowel or irritable bladder. Anxiety can also result in a panic attack, which can be unexpected including physical symptoms such as a racing heart, dizziness and shortness of breath.
Depression symptoms include a sad mood and a loss for zest in life and can cause impairment in sleep and appetite, guilty ruminations and even thoughts of suicide. However, many people view anxiety as a child of depression,
Matthew says, “If you look at a lifetime of someone with depression, more than 50 percent of them will suffer some kind of anxiety disorder.” When we treat depression, we want to address symptoms of residual or persistent anxiety and vice versa.”
Anxiety in childhood is a well-established risk factor for depression in adulthood, said Mathew.
If a patient is being treated for worry, fear, post-traumatic stress disorder or any other anxiety disorder, the possibility of a mood disorder such as depression should also be addressed.
After a diagnosis is made, physicians look at the severity of the problem and to what extent it is disrupting a patient’s daily life.
For mild depression or anxiety, psychotherapy is recommended for the initial treatment. This can include cognitive behavioral therapy in which patients learn to manage their anxiety through relaxation, facing fears and regulating emotions during stressful situations.
Medication can be helpful at this point, but therapy has better long-term results for preventing a relapse. Benzodiazepines are the most commonly prescribed medications for treating anxiety and can be taken on an as-needed or daily basis.